Growing up I was really shy. I mean, seriously shy. There were days that went by in elementary school when I spoke only when spoken to by a teacher. The responses were probably in a whisper. Getting past my shyness was a lifelong challenge. In high school I forced myself to become a tour guide & talked to strangers in small museum. At 18, I moved to New York City and had to talk to people ~ lots of people. At 20, I got a job as a newspaper reporter and had to not only approach random strangers and talk to them, I had to get quotes from them and write about it. So believe me, no one understands shyness better than me.
That said, it is surprising to a lot of people when they learn that in my 20s, I was also a professional bellydancer. No joke. I took years of dance lessons, practiced for hours ~ and never intended to become a performer. It was supposed to be for fun and exercise. That all changed though when I saw a bellydancer on stage named Piper. She was elegant, fluid, beautiful, classic. Piper's dancing took my "fun exercise" and elevated it to a timeless, feminine, exquisite art form. She was so amazing, she made me want to perform publicly.
This was a huge step to me. Dancing in front of people ~ but doing so in a scanty outfit and dealing with any insecurity I had about not only being shy -- but my body as well. Bellydance costumes are not merciful -- they call it a "bra, belt and skirt" because that's all there is to it. To wear one, dance in it and carry it off, you have to be incredibly secure. That was one of the biggest steps of my life -- putting on that outfit and dancing in public.
But I did it. And after some time, I loved it. Bellydancing was much more than good exercise, it completely changed my life. Sure, I'm still a little shy when I walk into a room of new people. It's nothing like it used to be. Though I retired from bellydancing two years ago, the courage and confidence remain.
I wish I could give this experience to every woman. Every woman is critical of herself. How may times have I heard it... "My nose is too big/small," "My butt is too big/small," "I'm too tall/short," "My ears look funny." You get the picture. I hear it a lot being in the photography business. Women especially always have some excuse about their personal appearance that is the reason they hate being photographed. I hear the excuses from headshot and portrait clients and brides and bridesmaids. And definitely from my boudoir clients.
Ladies, seriously ~ ease up off yourself a bit. Embrace who you are and realize that no matter how shy you think you are, how imperfect you imagine your nose/butt/arms/ears/whatever ~ no one sees it that way except you.
To prove it... here is me, in a bellydance costume, photographed and immortalized forever. These were my promo pictures. I do see flaws in myself in these pictures, I saw them the minute they were shot four years ago. But honestly, no one else has ever pointed them out. Knowing that, I was able to make a little more peace with my imagined flaws.
So there. Now, a few less excuses from you. A little more gorgeous confidence, please.
PS. If you want to step outside of your usual, I highly suggest a few bellydance classes. : )